Mobile App Platforms: It’s All About the Real Estate

Mobile App Dev Features

4 Core Requirements in Your Rapid Mobile App Dev Platform

 

In working with several customer on mobile application initiatives, I am finding the most important concept is managing the “Real Estate” of the device screen.   How do you give users an efficient and seamless experience without having to scroll, and minimizing “taps to completion”?  Likewise, how do you manage the transition from one form factor to another?  Here are four core features every mobile platform must support to optimize UI usage and forms development:

1.  Responsive Themes –  Business Process App and Mobile Development Platforms must support mobile responsive design principles.  Many platforms provide “design once” functionality where you can build forms/UI that will automatically span any type of device through auto-adjustment.  One example is K2’s smartforms, digital forms technology that are HTML 5 and completely responsive.  This can be a massive time saver for IT staff and developers, and eliminate the need for building digital forms for every mobile platform (iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry).  K2 Mobile provides a great responsive foundation.  Details here:  K2 Mobile App Dev

mobile responsiveness
Responsive Adjustment of UI

2.   Collapsible Views/Sections – Usability in mobile applications becomes challenging, especially when you have long forms with data entry requirements.  Giving the user the ability to collapse UI sections, or even better, providing this dynamically can provide a more manageable experience.  Being able to do this without code can speed up app dev, and drive productivity in the field.

3.  Tabs – How do you display 3 screens in one?  Having built-in tab functionality can allow users to easily switch back and forth between screens, and provide a seamless way to manage limited space on a mobile phone/tablet.  Limiting long scrolls and the opening of forms can reduce time and limit the complexity of tasks.

4.  Form Automation – Just what is forms automation?  Once again we go back to the theme of “minimizing taps to completion.”  Having a “no-code” rules engine that helps to drive dynamic automation based on forms interaction is absolutely required.  Examples?  See below:

  •  A drop-down list that when selected, auto-populates other fields.
  •  The ability to drive data interaction between multiple Line of Business systems through a single form with no code.
  • Hiding elements of forms, or sections based on choices.

All of this facilitates rapid data collection, and enables field workers to complete their tasks efficiently.  Want more info on Mobile App Dev?  Take a peek at my previous post on Mobile Apps and Rapid Development.

 

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K2: Enterprise Mobility Demo with Box and SharePoint

Enterprise Mobility and K2

Rapid Mobile Application Development with K2

Tying in with my theme this quarter of Enterprise Mobility, and adding onto my previous post, Mobile Apps and Rapid Development,  here is a quick video overview of a mobile construction safety application that includes not only an iPhone/iPad app, but also encompasses integration with  SQL, CRM, Box and SharePoint.

 

Notes From the Field: Mobile Applications and Rapid Development

Enterprise Mobile Strategy

CIOs Looking for Enterprise Mobile Platforms

As I look back at 2015, I am definitely seeing some trends in my day-to-day interactions with IT teams and CIOs: Mobile is driving many conversations.   It is no wonder if you look at some of the surprising statistics (from Kinvey):

  • Only 11% of end users access business apps from the corporate office 100% of the time.
  • 75% of Fortune 500 companies are taking steps to deploy HTML 5 mobile apps
  • Mobile CRM apps will grow by 500% over the next few years

Organizations are looking at alternatives to custom dev when examining their mobile strategy, and need agile, rapid development tools.

Below are two examples of customer use cases for deals that closed last quarter:

  • A large, global textile services organization looking to enable their mobile sales team on their tablets and phones.  This organization wanted a mobile app that could house all their sales forms and marketing materials, and give field reps the ability to access deal process information and get automated status notifications.
  • A mid-range construction company that needed a mobile safety app for field inspections from an iPhone.  Safety inspections can be a complicated business process, and often require notifications, follow ups and follow on process.  Most of the standalone apps on the market do well on the forms side, but fall short in the back-end process and reporting realm.  This organization needed a flexible, rapid dev platform to meet complex needs.

So, as I examine the mobile opportunities in the pipe, I see some commonality when it comes to what CIOs are looking for in a mobile business process app platform:

  1. The Ability to Build and Refine Quickly – Kinvey has a great report on the State of Enterprise Mobility, and there were several key findings in this survey of CIOs:
  • Over half said the time required to build a single mobile app is 7-12 months.
  • 50% say the process takes way too long
  • Mobile app dev is deemed as costly, slow and frustrating

More and more IT departments are looking for platforms to speed up development, and ease resource requirements.  Beyond the initial build, flexibility and agility for change is also a key requirement.

2.  Integration with Existing Systems – For any enterprise application, integration is often the biggest pain point, and typically reflects the largest time investment, and mobile applications are no exception.  Having an integration layer that can reduce or eliminate custom code and complex integration can not only speed up development, but also be a catalyst for opening enterprise systems to external, field workers.  An example of an accelerator in the data and integration space would be the K2 smartobject layer, which provides line of business integration through configuration with no code.   This layered approach is in line with Gartner’s Bimodal IT framework.

3.  Form Driven Workflow/Process – using mobile devices to collect data using forms is just the tip of the iceberg.  The IT departments I work with are looking for deep process after the data is entered.  This process contains not only basic notifications, but also several other components:

  • Business Logic and Rules – leveraging a process engine to make decisions and route work and information to the appropriate department or individual.
  • Integration with LOBs – writing the collected information, or portion, to an appropriate back-end system.
  • Form Archival – this provides the ability to take a “snapshot” of the form, and digitally archive it to an existing document repository through the integration layer.
  • Interaction with other systems – the ability to “check” with other systems during a process, and dynamically make decisions based on data.

So, what do these have in common?  They are typically steps within a manual process that are performed by humans, and consume time.  Efficiency is a core driver for the CIO looking to make an impact when using mobile devices to initiate processes.

4.  Reporting and Insight – Taking real-time data from field-based workers and providing insight to management is a key requirement in Enterprise Mobility.  Information that might not be accessible for days or weeks is now provided instantly to management.  Issues and bottlenecks can be resolved, and real-time, business impacting decisions can be initiated in an instant.

Just some thoughts and experiences ;).  Any feedback?  Also, if you want to see a video demo, you can see my latest post here:

Enterprise Mobility App Demo